Vol. 17, No. 1
Happy 40th Birthday to CRL's system administrator, Robert Buffington.
Professors Maria Polinsky and Marta Kutas have been appointed as Co-Directors of the Center for Research in Language effective November 1, 2004.
Dr. Polinsky, is professor and past chair in the department of Linguistics whose research interests include language universals and their explanation, comparative syntactic theory, and the expression of information structure in natural language. Her laboratory is currently pursuing issues of "Variation in Control Structures".
Dr. Kutas, a professor in the department of Cognitive Science, is an expert on human cognition and neuropsychology, electrophysiological and experimental methods of assessing human information processing, and language comprehension and production. These days her laboratory is pursuing issues of pre-activation (prediction) in language, hemispheric differences, role of mood in cognitive processing, role of aging in memory and language, and analytic advances in understanding event-related brain potentials (ERPs).
CRL will be holding a series of workshops and seminars in the upcoming year. The first workshop was on automated speech recognition, and was given by UCSD Linguistics alumnus Bill Byrne, Director of Voice Solutions at the SAP Labs. The second workshop was on Broca's Aphasia, and was given by Nina Dronkers, a research scientist at CRL and Director of the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders, VA Northern California Health Care System Departments of Neurology and Linguistics, University of California Davis.
Other workshops are planned on a variety of topics, including integrating theory with clinical practice for communication disorders, and neuroimaging of language.
New Researchers at CRL
Frederic Dick was given an appointment as an Assistant Research Scientist in CRL, effective September 1, 2004-June 30, 2006. Fred was a graduate student in CRL. He now works as a lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. He recently received a "New Investigator Award" from the British Medical Research Council.
Rachel Mayberry will be joining UCSD in the fall of 2005. Her interests include American Sign Language, psycholinguistics, first- and second-language acquisition, critical periods for language, and gesture-speech relationships.
The Confederation of Argentina Sordos (deaf) hosted a conference of major importance to the Deaf community in Argentina during the week of March 13-20. One of the major agenda items they are focused on is making things better for children. Herbert Pickell was invited to share his perspective on how to develop programs that better address the hearing children of deaf parents. Bert spent three days working with hearing kids with deaf parents (ages 6-16), their parents and interested community members. One additional day was spent giving a workshop for adult hearing children of deaf adults (CODA). A final presentation was given just before the closing to the entire deaf community (including hearing people who work with the deaf).
Bert's work with hearing children of deaf adults focuses on using information on bicultural identity resolution to better understand how we can foster a healthier child development process in which the hearing children of deaf parents can better understand themselves and develop a better sense of their identity. The days spent working with the younger kids and their parents illustrated that these issues transcend international borders and mainstream cultural differences. For the parents, Bert shared Erickson's stages of child development and helped them understand the key issues and why certain behaviors are quite natural at different ages.
Finally, for the final presentation to the entire conference Bert presented a proposal for a project for the community to work on entitled Proyecto Coditas (Project little CODA¹s). This presentation laid out the psychological foundations for organizing several events during the year and a summer camp program for the hearing kids of deaf parents. The main idea for this is that it is very hard for these kids to develop a sense of belonging to a group and their own identity as they lack the opportunity to mirror themselves in other kids and adult role models who have had similar life experiences. The community has rallied behind this goal, one audience member was able to offer a place to host the camp and hopefully they will achieve this goal this coming January. Bert will continue to consult with them and lend his experience to support the development of this project.
Adele Abrahamsen (CRL) and William Bechtel (Philosophy) submitted the final report on their Inquiry website project this month. Inquiry offers modules and instructors' tools for courses involving research methods, especially in the cognitive sciences, with an emphasis on interactive and hands-on learning. Many of the modules pose problems for students, who can then see other students' responses before proceeding further. Other modules provide opportunities for exploration using applets. For example, in the "experimenting on mechanisms" module students try to figure out the wiring diagram in the innards of a simple toy by lesioning, stimulating, or recording from internal components. A number of modules use human memory research as a domain for illustration; for example, a submodule of "testing causal claims experimentally" uses an experiment on memory for embedded sentences to walk students through causal diagrams.
Inquiry was funded by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education in the U. S. Department of Education to Washington University. Funded from November 2001 to October 2004, the title of the grant is "A Modular Interdisciplinary Methods Course for Cognitive Science Majors." The first Inquiry application was a course for majors in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology taught by Carl Craver at Washington University. The modular design of the website enabled Bill and Adele, when they moved to UCSD, to tailor the materials for teaching general scientific reasoning; this version is now used as a textbook equivalent in Philosophy 12 during 2 or 3 quarters per year. Most recently the postdoctoral fellow on the project, Peter Bradley, moved to McDaniel College and is using selected parts of Inquiry in several courses there.
One of the most useful tools designed by Peter was an application for selecting modules and organizing them into a course as desired, hence the existence already of several different working versions of Inquiry. Betsy Strick, the project's evaluator and Research Analyst with CREATE at UCSD, found evidence for different patterns of improvement on a pretest-posttest assessment for students using different versions of Inquiry or taking a traditional research methods course.
Anyone interested in checking out Inquiry for possible use in other courses here is welcome to visit Inquiry at http://inquiry.ucsd.edu. Select Guest/Reviewer Access and on the following page select Reviewer Entrance, where you will be asked to fill out a form and given a userid and password. Use might range from incorporating one or two individual modules into an existing course to constructing online materials for an entire course.
Although the grant has ended, many of the modules are still in the process of improvement or extension. Feedback on existing modules or proposals of new ones are therefore welcome. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
NIH Fellowship Opportunities at CRL
The Center for Research in Language has a training program, "Language, Communication, and the Brain." The NIDCD-funded grant supports 2 post-doctoral trainees and 6 pre-doctoral trainees. Applications for postdoctoral positions are solicited every March 1. (See our website for details.) Predoctoral trainees are selected by the executive committee of the training grant. Graduate students who are interested in participating in this program, or your faculty advisor, should contact a member of the committee to indicate your interest. The executive committee members are: Marta Kutas, Cognitive Science (Director of Program); Jeffrey Elman, Cognitive Science; Maria Polinsky, Linguistics; Martin Sereno, Cognitive Science; David Swinney, Psychology; and Beverly Wulfeck, Language & Communicative Disorders.
In addition, the Institute for Neural Computation offers pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships. The application deadline is April 1. For details, please refer to the INC website at http://inc.ucsd.edu .